“we have to be resolutely fearless about the facts”

That’s Tim Ritchie, Christian and also President and CEO of McWane Science Center in downtown Birmingham, quoted in the third instalmentof WBHM’s “God Darwin & Dixie” series.

Of course, the debate is over what the “facts” are. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve taken the time to personally investigate the science of evolution. What I know, I know via the authority of scientists.  So the question is whether those authorities are trustworthy. Given the lack of any reason for them to fabricate the idea of evolution, the unanimity on the basics of the theory, and its survival over the last century or so of testing and criticism, I’m going to take the experts at their word.

Especially when the opposition consists of people like this:

Chris Buttars and Gerald Allen, you’ve got another new competitor for the title of America’s Loopiest Legislator, Georgia State Rep. Ben Bridges. Bridges wrote a ridiculous little memo on evolution that is now, for some strange reason, being circulated in the Texas legislature. This man truly knows how to bring the crazy:

Mr. Bridges’ memo claims that teaching evolution amounts to indoctrinating students in an ancient Jewish sect’s beliefs.”Indisputable evidence – long hidden but now available to everyone – demonstrates conclusively that so-called ‘secular evolution science’ is the Big Bang, 15-billion-year, alternate ‘creation scenario’ of the Pharisee Religion,” writes Mr. Bridges, a Republican from Cleveland, Ga. He has argued against teaching of evolution in Georgia schools for several years.

He then refers to a Web site, http://www.fixedearth.com, that contains a model bill for state Legislatures to pass to attack instruction on evolution as an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

Fixedearth.com is the website of Gerardus Bouw, the goofy Calvinist astrophysicist who not only rejects evolution but claims that the earth is the center of the universe and that it does not rotate, but the universe rotates around it. Yes, a real live geocentrist.

This made me a heretic as a Baptist, but I’d much prefer to interpret the Bible in light of reality than to deny the obvious in order to preserve a pre-existing view of the Bible.

A scientific theory that ignored facts would be no theory at all. When a lawyer makes a closing argument, his theme of the case must account for all the facts – good and bad. IMHO, theology is no different. Whatever I believe about God, it better account for all the facts.

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8 Comments on ““we have to be resolutely fearless about the facts””

  1. Dan Says:

    Actually the geocentrist could have a point. There are no fixed reference points for modern cosmology, so the universe could be rotating around the earth. Of course, it’s revolutions around the sun are much more difficult to explain, especially when gravity is such an observable phenomenon.

    Of course, since there are no reference points, you could just make the earth the constant reference point. What I’m saying is this — if you look at the universe objectively, there’s no reason to call anything the “center.” There’s also no reason to call anything “still” or “moving.” It’s all relative. So if you’re in a space ship moving past another spaceship at 100 mph, there’s no way to tell if you’re moving 100 mph and the other spaceship is at rest, or if the other spaceship is moving 100 mph and you’re at rest, or if you’re both moving at speeds that combine to be 100 mph. In fact, it doesn’t even matter — they are all equally true.

    So, we could just say that the earth is the defined center of the universe. Wherever it is, and however it is moving is defined as the absolute center, unmoving part of the universe. (Actually, that’d be difficult because it’s moving in ellipses, but I was trying to be nice to the man).

  2. Dan Says:

    Holy crap. I just read through a few pages of fixedearth.com. This guy is a total whacko! And anti-Semitic. I thought he was just advocating a really weird “interpretation” of the facts, but he is way out there. If the science is so wrong that I can figure out how and why it’s wrong, it’s really, really wrong.

    For starters, the Michelson-Morley Experiment would have shown the same results even if the universe was rotating around the earth or whatever. The speed of light is a constant, regardless of the relative…. grahhh! This guy blows my mind. I can’t believe I was about to explain him away.

    It’s pretty funny, though.

  3. Dystopos Says:

    So if teaching evolution “amounts to indoctrinating students in an ancient Jewish sect’s beliefs”, then what does teaching creationism amount to?

  4. Woah! This guy is messed up! Dan, I loved your support argument for geocentrism!

  5. quaoar Says:

    The Republicans obviously have all the good drugs.

    What has this guy been smoking or snorting or shooting up to make him suspend reality and believe this garbage? Must be more powerful than PCP or LSD.

  6. tim ritchie Says:

    for what it’s worth, the facts I was refering to were those about the age of the earth. The evidence of a very old earth….4.5 billion years old….are seemingly irrefutable. If this is so, then Genesis has to be interpreted very differently than it is usually interpreted by creationists.

    A very old earth also gives lots of room for….evolution. As a Christian, this does not bother me in the least. In fact, as a Christian, it does not bother me to say that much of what I believe is not altogether correct. so too as a person of reason/science. we all have it more wrong than right.

    But, when there are facts that are established, like the age of the earth, we have to cling to them and adjust accordingly.

  7. wheeler Says:

    “it does not bother me to say that much of what I believe is not altogether correct.”

    ditto. we have to face the facts, but we’ll never know all the facts. and if i’ve learned anything as a lawyer, it’s that one little fact can completely change everything.

  8. sailer Says:

    Even without all of the facts we can make decisions. The funny thing is that the anti-evolution crowd demand that all of the facts be present for them to believe in evolution but require very little to believe in God. Religous people are very quick to make excuses for the lack of success when praying. It is always something like you are praying for the wrong things. Or that God’s will be done and that your prayer is against God’s will. Does that mean that God wanted my nephew to die a horrible slow death of cancer even with everyone in the family praying that he live. Exactly why did God want Jerry to die such a horrible death??? Believers ignore these facts or assign some mysterious purpose. Non believers know that life is uncertain and diseases kill every day. It is cold comfort to know that Jerry had some cells that had a genetic defect that allowed them to go wild and that the state of medicne was such that it could offer no help. Evolutionary theory can easily handle cancer. Most diseases are understood at least as to their cause. Evolutionary theory easily explains drug resistence. It is funny that someone will take a sick child to a doctor who prescribes medicines that are the product of science and then thank God for the child’s recovery. They ignore the antibiotics and say that prayer is what cured the child. They ignore the fact that before antibiotics prayer was much less effective. Prayer was very ineffective against the bubonic plaque. But once men of reason associated rats and fleas with the disease the plaque was quickly brought under control. Religous people quickly dismiss the role of science and assign credit to God. God inspired the scientist and told him about the fleas…or some such argument. I find it odd that God didn’t just tell the pope. Shouldn’t the Pope or some other such religous leader tell us how to cure cancer??? God is omnipotent and knows how to cure cancer,,so why doesn’t he just tell Billy Graham or Pat Robertson??? Does Jimmy Swaggert know the cure for cancer as revealed by God and just won’t share the information with us?? I suspect that the cure for cancer(if it is ever discovered) will come from scientist’s laboratory not from the Vatican. Heck I’d believe in God if Jim and Tammy Baker stepped forward with the cure for cancer as revealed to them by God.

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